After separating from active duty with the US Air Force in early 1998, I took a job working at a telecommunications company located in Brentwood, TN as a desktop and server support IT guy. About 6 months after I started, the company advertised an open position for their first full-time web developer. I applied and, owing to their policy of trying to "hire from within" first, I was chosen to fill the position.
The company had a completely static site that we built and maintained using Microsoft FrontPage (which was integrated with the company's Visual Source Safe SCM system). I eventually started adding tiny bits of functionality using ASP (now called "classic ASP") and that formed the basis of my "programming" experience.
After about 2 years in that position, the parent company for the company I worked for decided that our company no longer needed to be a wholly-owned subsidary, but should be a branch office instead. So, in January of 2000, I accepted an offer to transition to the web development team of the parent company. They too had a completely static web site that they used Dreamweaver to maintain, but they had BIG plans on the horizon.
They were in the process of choosing an "enterprise content management system" that would allow business users to create and update their own content. At the end of the selection process, Allaire Spectra was chosen. After the decision was made, I flew out to San Jose, CA (where the company was headquartered) several times to attend the Fast Track to ColdFusion, Advanced ColdFusion and Spectra 1.0 classes taught by folks that contracted with Allaire to provide training.
Having had no formal programming experience or training (playing with Basic in the computer labs at my high school couldn't be counted as experience), some of the basic concepts were quite foreign to me. I remember specifically having trouble wrapping my head around how arrays and structures worked. Eventually though, it all kind of clicked and I felt pretty good about what I had learned.
After our initial training sessions, we went on to build out our corporate site using Allaire Spectra with the help of two consultants from Allaire that flew to San Jose every week for about 8 months. The site went live sometime in early 2001 and everything was great for about 2 weeks. We had a hardware failure in a load balancer and the IT support person working with us mistakenly identified it as an issue with Spectra and rolled our site back to the static version we had just prior to launching the Spectra site.
Before we could correct the issue and get the Spectra site back online, Macromedia (which had recently purchased Allaire) announced that they were going to end-of-life Spectra. Upon hearing this news, our company decided that we couldn't base our corporate web strategy on a technology that had been cancelled. Our company decided instead to rebuild the entire site once again, but since we had such a significant investment in ColdFusion licenses and hardware, we standardize on ColdFusion for our web development needs.
I've been building web applications in ColdFusion ever since.